Family Unity

My husband gave the greatest family night lesson a couple of weeks ago.  It was centered on family unity and working together to acheive a goal.  He laid out a regular-sized piece of printer paper on the floor and told the kids to figure out a way so that they were all standing on the piece of paper.  Then, he and I just sat and watched.  Wow!  You can learn a lot about your children when putting them in such a situation.  You find out who are the most talkative, the controllers, the silent bystanders, the ones who feel "left out" and those who just listen and try whatever others suggest.  It was so great!  The coolest part was that one child gave an idea which was immediately ignored, but then that idea ended up being the one that worked in the end (it only took the other kids a very long time to realize it). 

J. then shared Mosiah 18:21

 "And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." 

We then talked about what it means to have our "hearts knit together" and how we needed to be a team.  He, of course, used the latest BYU basketball phenomenon as an example.  Jimmer does not go out there and win the game.  The TEAM is who wins the game.  J. also recognized that Jimmer does not boast about himself in an interview, but talks about how "we" had a great game, not "I."  We applied this to a family and how we need to work together as a team, listen to one another better and have our "hearts knit together in unity and love." 

I just thought it was a great lesson and good enough to share.  :-)


Conference Notes, Part III: Mentoring

MENTORING is becoming my favorite topic these days.  And so it was fitting that my favorite session I went to was on being a mentor.  First of all, I loved her title, "Mentors to Match our Mission."  I can't tell you everything the speaker said, but she was fabulous.  She started with this:  "A good mentor knows how to use the genius of others. . . . Mentors help others to find their genius."  Loved that!  Then she took the lives of great mentors, great geniuses, and pulled characteristics from them that we can all acquire to become great mentors ourselves.  In a nutshell, here are the characteristics:

What is your mission?  She described parts of her mission: math, teaching her daughters femininity, motherhood, etc.  I loved that she didn't say her mission was to save the world.  We all have those small parts of our mission we need to focus on.  With vision comes direction.

We need to recognize the value of failure and not be afraid of it. 

Focus on the strengths of your children (or those you mentor).  With genius comes security.

With sacrifice comes peace.  If you're not feeling at peace, maybe there's something else you need to be sacrificing (this was hard one for me!). 

Not only do we need to love those we mentor, we need to love what we are doing.  She talked about having hte attitude of love in the things we do, creating an attitude of love in our environment, and developing and attitude of love toward those we mentor.  With love comes passion.

Larry H. Miller has said, "If you want extraordinary results, you need to put in extraordinary effort."  With work comes power.

Here is where realistic expectations of ourselve and our children come into play!  We can't ask our children to do things we ourselves are not willing to do.  With integrity comes peace of mind. 

Trust God
It's between you and God, not them  (whoever them is).  Trusting in God leads to faith in yourself, God and others.


Conference Notes, Part II: Inspiring

I was struck by one speaker's definition of inspiration.

Inspiration:  Making that which is true and good desirable.
And in order to do that we need to know what is truth, what is good and then make those things desirable. 

This may not seem very "ah-ha" to you, but this small definition led me to ponder what is truth and good.  This then made me wonder if I'm teaching my children those things.  The speaker also mentioned that inspiration starts in the CORE phase.  Which rings true with the idea that during CORE phase we are supposed to be teaching truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.  Which all takes me back to my post from one of our Mentoring Mothers meetings where we discussed teaching math.  Math is a truth.  Math is good.  Therefore, I need to be making math desirable for my children.  This same principle applies to all subjects I feel are necessary for my children to learn.  Sounds simple, but it was a little gem that I took away from the conference, and I liked that definition.  :-)


Conference Notes: Part 1: Relationships

What a weekend!  I'm still feeling the effects of going to bed at midnight and waking up at 6am (I haven't woken up that early for the past six months!), but it was good to get away.  Funny story.  Before I left, my oldest said, "Mom, don't get mad at this, but it's kind of fun when you leave."  I laughed and said, "Guess what?  It's kind of fun to leave you, too!"  :-)  It was cute.  We all had a great weekend. 

The conference was great.  I'm glad I went, I took home a few gems, and it was great to meet a few people and see some amazing youth (giving me hope that I'm doing the right thing for my family).  I enjoyed wonderful time and conversations with my parents and my sister, saw Jimmer the horse, and laughed a lot!  I just wish my pregnancy state hadn't made me so tired and that my mom's wonderful & delicious baking didn't give me so much heartburn (due to pregnancy) the whole weekend.  :-) 

So, what did I learn?

Today I will just share some things I learned from James Ferrell, President of the Arbinger Institute. 

First, I learned about asking the right questions.  Instead of asking "What are we going to do about...."  we need to ask ourselves "HOW are we with . . . "  It seems like a simple semantics issue, but think about it.  HOW? is a very powerful question.  How am I going to solve this problem rather than what is the problem?  How is my relationship with my spouse rather than what am I going to do about his socks on the floor every day?  :-)  How am I going to get my daughter excited about math instead of what do I need to teach her?  Ferrell says knowing the HOW is just as important as knowing the WHAT.  HOW is the foundation of our relationships, our time, and our lives. 

The other gem I took home from Ferrell was this question:  "Are we spending most of our time each day dealing with things that are going wrong OR helping things to go right?"  As mothers, are we putting out more fires than we are starting (by way of inspiring and leading our children)?  Making a checklist of where we are truly spending our time will help us to see if we are reacting to our daily lives OR living our daily lives.  Love that!

The final thing I learned was that I need to watch how I view my children.  What parent doesn't, at one point and time, look at their children as objects rather than people?  Children (and others) are often viewed as something to teach, something to train, a product of ourselves, or even something "in the way."  We need to view all people as just that . . . PEOPLE.  When we are looking at ourselves as either ABOVE or BENEATH others, we are building on the wrong foundation (this made me think of President Benson's talk on pride).

Bottom Line: 
How are we doing with the relationships in our lives?

The next day, I had the priviledge of hearing a blind man speak at church where he touched on this same principle, but in a more spiritual sense.  He said, "I may not have physical eyes, but we all have spiritual eyes.. . . Because I can't see your physical person, I get to see each of you through spiritual eyes and I feel your spirit." 

Imagine if we could all have that same perspective in recognizing one another as spiritual beings.  Wow!  How would we act differently?  How would we treat one another?  How would we think of ourselves?  As I'm always saying, "It's all about relationships."  Let's make them great!


On My Way

After 7 years of homeschooling, I'm off to my first education conference.  Yippee!  Really, it's just an excuse to get away before baby shows up (in June!) . . . but I'm hoping to be motivated as the end of the year (and pregnancy) loom closer.  It should be fun!  Thanks to my great husband for staying with the kids this weekend!  I'm sure it will all run smoothly! ;-)  Hopefully when I get back, too, I'll have some great gems to share.  Bon Voyage!


Mentoring Mothers: Becoming Scholars

Well, our discussion yesterday was great as always.  Somewhat sporadic, but good nonetheless.   I had some main points about the Scholar Phase of learning that I had learned throughout the month.  I think I'll just share those bullet points (with a few interjections of some things that were also mentioned in the meeting).

*  What does a scholar phase look like?
At first we talked about how, as mothers, we are busy and can't expect to study 6-8 hours a day like our youth.  It's just not realistic.  Also, life as a mother makes us scholars as we learn more about our children and running a household.  We need to take advantage of the little snippets of time that we have to learn and to grow. 

In the end, however, we also recognized that we do need to be leading by example for our children.  Our children will study what we study.  They will follow our examples (good or bad) and so we do need to put forth the effort to be sure we're doing and/or studying (reading) the things we want them to be doing as well!  In response to a woman who claimed she was in the Love of Learning phase, Oliver DeMille said all adults should be in a scholar phase (at least!).  So, it's time to step up and pay the price!  :-)

"To teach you must know, to know you must learn."

"If we do not get a superb education, our children will not receive on either." 

* Choosing what to Study
Whereas Love of Learning is about studying what you want to learn, Scholar phase consists of recognizing what it is you need to know and then figuring out how you're going to learn it.  We made the distinction that it's not Depth Phase, where you delve into one subject to become an expert, it's learning about all the things you think an educated person needs to know  (yes, that includes math!). 

In TJEd for Teens I read that if you're not inspired about something, you need to find out what it is in that subject that will inspire you.  So, scholar phase is about inspiring yourself (which could be through finding the right mentors as well).  This is where requiring comes in.  We need to be taking assignments from our children as well.  What is it they need to learn or that they're interested in?  What is it you want your kids to be studying?  Study that!  Where can we become stronger so we can become better mentors for our children?  What is lacking my MY education?  These are the "requirements" we need to accept as scholars. 

* Community
Mentoring Mothers has given us a great foundation in forming a community here.  Forming a community with Core and Love of Learning ages, we are finding, hasn't been the most beneficial for our area.  However, we are seeing the need as our kids get older and start searching for friends and more outside of home experiences, that we're getting closer to really needing a community for our youth.  BUT we want it to start with the adults as well.  We talked about taking Mentoring Mothers to the next level and becoming more accountable to one another of our own personal goals.  It's all still in the works and up for discussion, but this is what we spent our last half hour or so discussing. 

So, as I said in the beginning . . . nothing terribly exciting to share really, but it was a helpful discussion for those who were there I think.  And we talked about some necessary things for our group personally. 

Books to Read
A Well-Educated Mind - Susan Wise Bauer (not to be confused with Well-Trained Mind) . . . this is a great You, Not Them book and a great way to become well-read and well-educated!

TJEd for Teens - Shanon Brooks & Oliver DeMille


Field Trip

Last week we took a day trip to Pendleton.  There we took a tour of a wool factory.  It was quite fascinating . . . free, short and sweet! 

Afterwards we took the kids to REAL Mexican food.  :-)  I don't think they'd had much more than my own cooking and Taco Bell fake-o.  So, this was a real treat . . . and we all LOVED it!

More Projects

There was a project fair at the school JW attends, and so I got my kids at home to participate as well!  We were studying deserts already, so we decided to make a large paper mache glob and then label the major deserts around the world. 

First get a large punching balloon and rip up lots of newspaper in strips.

Make a flour paste - - 1 part water to 1 part flour.

Dip newspaper strips in the paste and cover the balloon...this might take two coats of newspaper strips, depending on how well you want it to be covered. 

We also made a poster of all we learned about deserts.  Each child took a part:  animals, types of percipitation and food chains of the desert.  I added some other facts about deserts. We used watered down elmers glue and a paint brush to hold the sand on at the bottom.
I think it turned out quite well!  :-) 

JW's project was on lightening.  He created this board and also had an experiment using a balloon, wool and a screw to show static electricity.  It was inside a box so you could see the spark.  It was great fun!
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